As energy prices continue to soar across Europe, biomethane could – once scaled-up – cover 30-40% of the EU gas demand at considerably lower cost, according to a report by the European Biogas Association (EBA).

The sharp rise in natural gas prices over the past year has seen European governments struggle to reduce the impact of energy prices on citizens’ energy bills. 

Up €18/MWh (megawatt hour) compared to a year ago, the current natural gas price of €80/MWh is likely to remain the same – or increase – come next winter. 

However, the rapid scaling-up of biomethane could provide a short-term and long-term solution. 

Biomethane produce in Europe is currently 30% cheaper than natural gas and has the ability to reduce EU energy dependency on external suppliers. 

Capable of being produced from €55/MWh, in addition to being a cheaper alternative, biomethane could provide the steppingstone to green hydrogen, which – at 2-4 times the price – requires time to adequately scale-up. 

Providing the legislative framework is put In place, biomethane could provide at least 34 bcm (billion cubic metres) of renewable gas by 2030, representing around 10% of total EU gas demand. 

A consistent growth trend could see the biomethane industry supplying 30-40% of the EU gas demand by 2050. 

Commenting on the need to scale-up, Harmen Dekker, CEO, EBA, emphasised the rising interest shown in biomethane, saying, “A strong sense of urgency is growing to secure investments and ensure the deployment of biomethane facilities across Europe.” 

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis, biomethane could help stabilise rising gas prices in the EU, which relies heavily on Russian-supplied natural gas. 

Although the UK only relies on Russia for less than 5% of its natural gas supply, the EU produces less than 15% of its own gas demand, justifying an increased focus in alternative solutions. 

The potential for increased gas shortages in the EU has seen both Japan and the US commit to delivering liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies. 

According to Dekker, this reliance on external gas supplies could be heavily reduced by the scaling up of biomethane production. 

He added, “A clear legislative framework will provide certainty for long-term investments on the roll out of sustainable biomethane.” 

To help unlock the full potential of the gas, the EBA is calling for a new public-private partnership to produce 40 bcm of biomethane by 2030. 

In addition to the 34 bcm of sustainable biomethane by 2030, 6 bcm more can be produced in Ukraine – promoting economic growth of the country. 

Given the gas’ ability to utilise existing gas networks, unnecessary expenditure and CO2 emissions will also be avoided.